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Food waste is a massive issue in Australia, and one most people aren’t aware of. It costs the national economy an estimated $20 billion a year, while a massive five million tonnes of food ends up in the landfill, with over half of this coming from our homes. In fact, our homes produce more food waste than farms, manufacturers, supermarkets and the hospitality industry combined.
Australia has a national target to halve food waste by 2030, and while we’re all responsible for bringing that down, there are a group of dedicated people and organisations proactively working to exceeding that target.
In today’s society, we have the illusion that food is disposable. With relatively low prices, and constant supply, we have lost our connection to where it comes from, and its true value.
One of those places is a small not-for-profit supermarket in the inner-Melbourne suburb of Thornbury.
The Inconvenience Store is the latest incarnation from the team behind the charitable restaurant Lentil As Anything.
Just like the restaurant, the Inconvenience Store is stocked with donated produce that would otherwise be thrown away. “The idea was to make a difference in the food waste crisis,” project coordinator Astrid Ryan told the ABC.
Customers can come in and take what they need and pay what they want. Just like the restaurant, the idea is to feed people who need it and rely on the good faith of those who can afford it. You can come in and help yourself to fresh produce, bread and even some packaged items, then leave a donation in a wooden box on your way out.
“We wanted to provide people access to nutritious fruit and vegetables”, Astrid said, again to the ABC.
“When people are in financial crisis or difficult situations, it’s probably the thing they have the least access to.”
The bread is donated by nearby bakeries, while other produce comes from places such as the Preston Market and even big supermarket chains.
The food may be a tad old or have an unusual appearance, but it is perfectly fine to eat.
“The food is free, we just ask if people like what we’re doing, if they want this store to stay open, then to contribute what they can.
“We also need volunteers, so there are always ways to help out.”
There’re places like the inconvenience store popping up all over Australia and they’re a brilliant initiative that helps people in need and helps to reduce food waste. If you would like more information, check out The Inconvenience Store or OzHarvest.